Slovenia’s Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) won the Vuelta a Espana for the second time in as many years on Sunday to make up for his crushing disappointment at the Tour de France.
With the win, Roglič becomes the first rider to defend the Vuelta since Roberto Heras in 2005, and it may be that he is in for another go at the Spanish grand tour in 2021.
“It’s nice to win the red and green jersey at the end of my season,” Roglič said. “So thank you very much and see you next year.”
Ecuadorian Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) finished runner-up after leading the general classification for five stages and putting Roglič under intense pressure in the penultimate stage on Saturday.
But Roglič rallied to avoid another collapse, and instead took a 24-second advantage into the last day, which he maintained to cross the line as a worthy champion.
“It’s beautiful to be on the podium again,” said Roglič who had suffered a dramatic Tour de France collapse with victory in sight in September. “2020 was quite a special year because of the coronavirus crisis, so I wish everybody good health. I’d like to thank the race organizers for making it happen.”
Britain’s Hugh Carthy (EF Pro Cycling) secured third place while Ireland’s Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) and Spaniard Enric Mas (Movistar Team) completed the top five.
Roglič’s triumph will taste particularly sweet after a late collapse cost him victory in the Tour in September, when he fell away at the end, allowing compatriot Tadej Pogačar to claim first place.
There was no flinching this time around, the 31-year-old is a deserved winner and arguably rider of the year at the end of an unprecedented cycling season.
Bora-Hansgrohe’s German sprinter Pascal Ackermann clinched the 18th stage victory in Madrid.
Ackermann edged the final stage win in a photo-finish with Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-Quick-Step). Sunweb’s Max Kanter finished in third.
Bennett looked like he might edge it when the Irishman powered through in a fast and furious last 100 meters, but Ackermann held on.
“I wasn’t sure who won at the finish and I was asking Sam who won,” said Ackermann.
“The team is so happy about the victory and I have to say thank you to my teammates. I think that today was an amazing lead-out. You could see it on the television. I’m really happy to take the victory, and I’m just so happy.”
But the day belonged to Roglič, who was never been lower than fourth in the overall GC after winning the opening stage, and now has a second success to go with his 11 stage wins in the grand tours.
It was a final-stage procession for Roglič, who linked arms with Carapaz and Carthy en route to Madrid, with the podium separated by only 75 seconds.
“My whole team is special and we’ve done special things all year,” said Roglič earlier on Sunday.
“This Vuelta they’ve pushed even when we’ve not been in our best moments. We’ve done our best and it’s been amazing. I’m really happy and glad that I’m part of this team.”
AFP contributed to this report.